Spend $20 on ebooks, get $5 credit on Amazon

For a limited time only, Amazon is offering a $5 ebook credit when you spend $20 on books.

To get the offer, here’s what you have to do:

  • Go to the offer page here and click the “Activate Now” button.
  • Spend $20 on eBooks by January 28, 2019

The offer applies to Kindle eBooks made available through Amazon.com and includes eBook gift purchases. It DOES NOT APPY to eBook pre-orders, physical goods, digital magazines, audiobooks (including Audible companions for your Kindle eBook purchase), print books, or digital subscriptions such as Kindle Unlimited.

After activating the offer and purchasing a minimum of $20 in books, you will receive the promotional credit.

The credit is good for 30 days  and is limited to one per customer and account.

Here come the digital deals! Amazon Digital Day is December 28, 2018

Amazon has announced their third annual digital day sales event. The event will showcase thousands of deals from Amazon’s digital content inventory, including movies, TV shows, mobile games, apps, eBooks, and lots more.

Featured bargains this year include:

  • Save up to 75% off Kindle best-selling books, including titles such asManhattan Beach, In the Midst of Winter, My Squirrel Days, Summer I Turned Pretty, Indianapolis, and Great At Work
  • Save up to 80% off best-selling Marvel graphic novels like Jessica Jones: Blind Spot, Runaways Vol. 1: Pride and JoyYou Are Deadpool, and X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Save up to 60% off digital magazines such as Vanity Fair, People,Entertainment Weekly, Martha Stewart Living,Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appétit, Wired, Shape, and Men’s Journal
  • Get 25% extra gold bars on all Candy Crush Friends Saga December Deals
  • Get 35% off the Clash of Clan’s in-game Digital Clash Pack with 6x value on Gold, Elixir, Book of Everything, and Builder Potions
  • Save 25% on select Final Fantasy Brave Exvius Lapis Bundles
  • Save on hundreds of movies like Incredibles 2, Christopher Robin, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Avengers: Infinity War on Prime Video
  • Prime members save up to 65% off movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Red Sparrow, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Tomb Raider, and Book Club on Prime Video
  • Save up to 66% off PBS Kids apps for Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train, Peg + Cat, and more
  • Save 30% off language programs from Rosetta Stone and Babbel
  • Save 50% or more off of software from H&R Block, Norton Security, and Quicken Personal Finance
  • Save 20% on TurboTax 2018 and get a free $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • Save 33% on the Audible Romance Package for the first 3 months
  • Save $50 on Fire HD 10 tablet and receive 3 months free trial to Audible
  • Audible members can buy one, get one free on a selection of hundreds of Audible books
  • Get 3 months of Kindle Unlimited for $0.99. Enjoy unlimited access to over 1 million books, popular magazines and thousands of books with Audible narration. Offer valid for new subscribers only
  • Get 3 months free of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited for $2.99. Offer valid for new subscribers only
  • Start a new paid subscription to AMC Premiere, CBS All Access, ESPN+, or Showtime and get $10Amazon credit
  • Start a new paid subscription to ABCmouse and get $10 Amazon credit

You can sign up now to receive notifications when the deals begin. You can also follow the deals on social media with the hashtag #DigitalDay.

The fine print: According to the press release, “As a preview of the sale, some deals will be available starting as early as December 26, with the biggest savings launching at 12:00 am PST time on December 28.”

A refreshing opinion piece from someone who actually prefers ebooks

Yesterday, I ran across an interesting article praising ebooks over print. I found it absolutely refreshing. Here is someone unabashedly coming out and saying that they think that ebooks are vastly superior to their print counterparts.

When I first started this blog in 2011, it seemed like every other article I read was talking about how bad ebooks were and emphasizing the many ways that print books had the advantages. Most of the pieces I read made the same points over and over: “Real books” smelled better and felt better to the touch. Paper books didn’t need a battery, a charger, or a WiFi connection. You could share them, lend and even donate or sell them when you were done.As time went on, these types of articles started adding references to studies and statistics that pointed out that you remembered more of what you read on a print book or that teenagers didn’t like to read books in digital form.

Now, almost eight years later, I still see these articles. At least once or twice a month, I find one of these article coming up on a blog or I read or on one of the internet alerts I have set up for articles  on ebooks. Any more, most of the posts are opinion pieces, many from smaller, local papers. But the tone nowadays is almost nostalgic. The print book is an artifact, symbolizing the struggle against the technology that threatens to overwhelm our lives and offering a respite from the endless array of screens we are surrounded by daily.

Back in 2011, the publishing industry really feared that ebooks would take over the publishing industry. We have now seen that that’s not happening. People are still going to bookstores, still buying print books. Many people buy both: ebooks for casual reading and paper for books they want to keep. Or perhaps they buy fiction in digital, non-fiction in paper.

Maybe now that publishers have raised the prices of ebooks enough to seriously slow down their growth, the industry is no longer quite as worried about the effect of ebooks on the publishing economy, After all, audiobooks are the publishing industry’s new darling, with digital audiobooks sales way, way up. And since in most cases, the publishers firmly control the audio rights along with the print rights, maybe they are not worried about audio disrupting their profits.

Or maybe, there’s just one guy out there who, like me, is saying please don’t buy me any print books for Christmas. I’d rather read ebooks.

What about you? Are you E or P?

Update: Playster cancels accounts for excessive usage

Yesterday, I posted about user claims that Playster is apparently cancelling users’ memberships because they are consuming too much content. The service is marketed as offering unlimited access to media content. There are a series of complaints, most dated over the last ten days, on sites like Trustpilot and Pissed Consumer, all claiming that their accounts were unjust flagged by the system’s fair use algorithm. These users then found their accounts cancelled or suspended. All of the members seemed to be heavy users of audiobooks.

I reached out to Playster for their side of the story. Here is their response:

Playster’s fair use algorithm has two major goals: to deter fraud and help us keep the service unlimited for all audiobook lovers.

After discovering cases of average consumption exceeding 24 hours per day, concurrent streaming on multiple IP addresses and other activity that appeared to be in violation of our terms and conditions, we felt we had no option but to take an extra cautious approach with accounts resembling any of the following:

  • Commercial use;
  • Automated consumption;
  • Recording or duplicating content;
  • Unauthorized sharing, leasing or distribution of content;
  • Public broadcasting;
  • Multiple accounts created with the same device, IP address or credit card
  • Accounts using a blacklisted device, IP address or credit card;
  • Use of a VPN or Proxy IP.

We realize some accounts may have been flagged unjustly, which is why all members were refunded their last membership charge and everyone affected was invited to submit an appeal form, so that we may address all concerns in detail with the attention they deserve. If anyone hasn’t received the appeal form or has any questions, they can email support@playster.com.

Several items on the above list are troubling to me. First, flagging an account solely because of an IP address can be a recipe for disaster (please google records companies charging 80 year old great-grandmothers with infringement for details). For a variety of reasons, IP addresses are not always unique. People create accounts from workplaces or apartment buildings that share internet access. IP address alone is not sufficient reason for denying access to an account.

Perhaps most troubling is the assumption that the use of a VPN or proxy IP suggests illegal actions. There are host of valid reasons to use a VPN for both privacy and security concerns. The use of a VPN should not imply illegal consumption of content.

Playster’s response said that members were invited to submit an appeal form. None of the complaints I read on either Trustpilot or Pissed Consumer mentioned being offered an appeal form. In fact, several of them have commented on the lack of response and long delays in hearing from customer service. At this point, no one has said that they were able to get their account reinstated.

If you have had an experience with this issue, please let me know in the comments. Are you a VPN user? Were you offered an appeal form? Was customer service’s response?  Did you get your account reinstated?

I will follow up on this story as more information becomes available.

(You can read my review of the Playster service here.)

Is Playster booting customers for reading too much?

One of my most popular posts on this blog is a review of the all-you-can-read subscription service Playster from March of 2016. Today, I received a disturbing comment on that post that claimed that Playster is apparently cancelling users’ memberships because they are consuming too much content.

According to commenter manderleylife, their account was flagged by Playster’s algorithm:

On Aug 19 I got an email from them: We’re contacting you to let you know that your Playster membership has been flagged automatically by our fair use algorithm. As a result, your membership has been frozen while we investigate why the activity on your account triggered this algorithm. To put it simply, they said my usage resembled “commercial use, automated consumption, recording/duplicating, sharing or using multiple accounts created with same device.” Playster “investigated” it and said they couldn’t determine if I was doing anything illegal so they were cancelling my membership!

Manderleylife stresses that they didn’t share or illegally use content; they were listening to audiobooks for perhaps 6-7 hours each day. Note that Playster markets its service as offing unlimited reading.

Manderleylife also pointed out that other members (also avid readers) had also had their memberships frozen and cancelled. A brief search on the internet showed a series of complaints, most dated over the last ten days, on sites like Trustpilot and Pissed Consumer. The stories are startlingly similar. All claim that their memberships were cancelled even though there was no proof of wronging other than heavy usage.

These reports showcase the problem with the all-you-can-read (or listen to) model. Avid users can indeed go through a high volume of content through the legal use a service. Just ask Scribd, who in February, 2016 had to put content limits in place and deleted most of their romance titles from the catalog, just to stop the financial drain.

While Scribd changed their system to stop the bleed, it does sound like Playster is cancelling memberships of users who are consuming more content than they are comfortable with. Unfortunately for Playster, they have marketed the service as unlimited. Cancelling memberships with no clear evidence of wrongdoing is not the right way to treat your customers.

I am reaching out to Playster to see what they have to says about the situation. More to come…

(Note: There’s an update to this story with a statement from Playster here.)